A dozen cases of ‘upskirting’ reported to police since new laws introduced

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 January 2020

Several arrests have been made by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Several arrests have been made by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Felipe Caparrós Cruz

A dozen cases of upskirting have been reported to Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the six months since it was made a specific offence, an investigation has found.

The first figures on the impact of the Voyeurism (Offences) Act, obtained by a Freedom of Information request show almost one victim a day has contacted police since its introduction last April.

Campaigners say upskirting 'does not exist in a vacuum' and celebrated the new law for holding potential perpetrators of sexual assault and violence to account.

In Avon and Somerset, police received 12 reports of upskirting in the first 182 days after the Act came into force, making it a specific criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

Teenagers aged 14 and 15 and a 74-year-old woman were among the victims, all of whom were female.

Only one of the cases resulted in police action. Six of the incidents took place in June alone.

Across England, 153 allegations were made over the period, although two large police forces - London's Metropolitan Police Service and Bedfordshire Police - refused to respond to the information request, meaning the true number could be much higher.

The vast majority of incidents involved female victims, taking place in schools, shopping centres and other public spaces.

Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific upskirting law meant police were unsure how to deal with allegations, and therefore many crimes went unreported.

Under the new law, a conviction at the magistrates' court would carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and could include a fine.

A more serious offence, tried in the crown court, can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Voyeurism Act also allows upskirting to be treated as a sexual offence and ensure that the most serious offenders are placed on the sex offenders register.

Campaigner Gina Martin, who spent nearly two years fighting to create a specific upskirting law after two men who took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017 went unpunished, welcomed the statistics.

She said: "The Voyeurism Act only came into use eight months ago and the difference in charges and reporting is already up greatly.

"Among those who were charged was a convicted paedophile and a man who police subsequently found had 250,000 indecent images of children.

"Upskirting doesn't exist in a vacuum.

"Sexual assault and violence is all linked, and I'm just so happy this law is holding those who perpetrate it accountable."

Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service showed that 10 men were convicted of 16 offences in 2019.

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